The Denman Island Readers and Writers Festival is going mostly virtual this year. (Thorsten Frenzel - Pixabay)

The Denman Island Readers and Writers Festival is going mostly virtual this year. (Thorsten Frenzel - Pixabay)

Denman writing and reading festival adapts to pandemic times

The festival is nearing its 20th anniversary

The Denman Island Readers and Writers Festival is going back to its roots.

Nearly 20 years after its creation, the annual event aims to connect aspiring writers with award-winning B.C. authors to improve their craft.

While they are expanding their classes and workshops through a virtual format to those across the province and country, they are also aiming to keep it local with a goal to host a small, free community event celebrating Denman words – spoken, written and musical, depending on COVID-19 regulations, explained Cindy Critchley, co-chair of the festival committee.

“If you have been writing during Covid and are ready for input, inspiration, and the perspective of published authors then our program fits the bill,” said Critchley. “We are keeping the groups small so that participants can get the attention they need and learn from some of the best authors in the province while meeting other emerging writers.”

The festival kicks off with The Writing Week, an eight-person, three-hour daily session for five days on Zoom, facilitated by author Caroline Adderson from July 12 to 16. Writers are asked to submit a manuscript or their work prior to the session.

From July 16 to 18, there are daily virtual sessions on topics ranging from spoken word, poetry, writing in a pandemic, memoir, creative non-fiction and more. The authors will talk about their own work and lead short writing exercises and group discussions.

In the past, attendance for the festival has mostly been from the Comox Valley and those on holidays on the Island. Critchley said this year with the festival going virtual, she hopes it will make the sessions more accessible to those all over, while a special non-virtual community Turing the Page session on July 17 and 18 aims at Denman residents and highlights island writers.

“(The festival) is for both writers and readers; some attendants are not writers but avid readers and just want to hear their writer speak about their work. Others are interested in writing and want to learn from someone really good at their craft – there’s something for everyone.”

The Turning the Page event is tentative, added Critchley, as a decision to proceed depends on directives from public health officials as the summer approaches.

For more information, registration and updates, visit

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